For a career that rang as loud off the court as it did on it, Megan Rapinoe made another statement in front of thousands of fans at Soldier Field in Chicago.
It was a match that marked the end of one of the most decorated careers in international women’s football, achieved by one of the sport’s most divisive figures.
Megan Rapinoe is a woman who divides opinion. What is not a matter of opinion is her impact on the sport in the United States.
With the goals she scored, the assists she provided and the attention she helped bring to the team, Rapinoe made a lasting impact on women’s soccer in the country and grew it further than anyone else ever could.
Of course, someone whose career had such an impact deserved a grand send-off and Chicago did its best to do just that. They provided the stage, it was up to Rapinoe – who received the armband as captain – to provide the moment.
Megan Rapinoe gave her signature pose for the last time at Soldier Field in Chicago
Her corner was deflected but was ultimately headed into the net by Emily Sonnett
A free kick sailed just over the crossbar as Rapinoe left the field without a goal to her name
She had a few more chances to put her name on the scoresheet one last time, but none were successful.
The United States broke through first thanks to the boots of Trinity Rodman, just 18 minutes into the match.
Rapinoe, 38, was one of the first to be persuaded to celebrate with the 21-year-old, but there seemed to be a different look in her eyes – one that reflected less the importance of the goal itself, but rather the pride to which she alluded. in a press conference about the future of this American team.
Rodman tried to find Rapinoe in the penalty area in the 38th minute, but the pass was slow and the defenders got involved. The outgoing winger’s long-range effort in the 43′ went over the crossbar.
She had the chance to get an assist in injury time in the first half, but the ball thrown in for Alex Morgan could no longer be put away. Morgan clapped for Rapinoe’s attempt as cameras saw a wry smile appear on her face.
Just minutes after halftime, Rapinoe’s unsung moment of glory arrived.
With a corner kick in the 49th minute, Rapinoe tapped in a ball that was knocked away by South African goalkeeper Andile Dlamini. The blow found the head of Emily Sonnett, who made the score 2-0 with a nod.
Rapinoe celebrated the goal as the team rushed to her side. Sonnett jumped into the winger’s arms as Rapinoe lifted her into the air.
Rapinoe’s career ended when Margaret Purce was substituted in the 53rd minute
The last thing she did on the field was bow to the crowd, ending an illustrious career
As the team gathered around her, she was convinced to once again perform her iconic ‘Pose’ from the 2019 World Cup – her arms outstretched with a beaming smile on her face, in place of her self-described ‘s**t- eating’. grin from France.
She couldn’t last much longer on the field. A free kick in the 52′ went high over the bar and that was the last time she touched the ball.
Margaret ‘Midge’ Purce came on for Rapinoe in the 53rd minute. After giving the bracelet to Lindsey Horan, she hugged many players on the field.
She applauded the crowd and bowed to the sidelines. Then that was it. Rapinoe’s iconic career as an American international player was over.
After the match ended, she assured the crowd that she’s “not going anywhere.”
“It is my honor to represent you, to play for so long, to be so successful and it will be my honor to be an alumni of this team and watch this team become as successful as we are , and even more. she said in her post-game comments.
Speaking to TNT’s postgame show – with former USWNT players Shannon Boxx and Julie Foudy at the desk – she described the evening as both “overwhelming” and “amazing.”
After the match ended, Rapinoe assured the crowd that she’s “not going anywhere”
Rapinoe is ‘proud to know that we have been successful’ and ‘made the world a better place’
When asked what she will miss most about the national team, she shared a little more about her ethos surrounding her career.
“Obviously I love the game and I love playing, but I think everyone knows I’ve always used that to make the world a better place,” Rapinoe said, sounding a bit choked up. “I think that’s been the most meaningful for me, I think you guys (Boxx and Foudy) have done that for us, you’ve given us a dream.”
She continued, saying, “I feel like I played a big part in that and this generation of players played a big part in that. So when I look up, I see people who are inspired and maybe have seen themselves on our team in some way.
“And it makes me really proud to know that we’ve been as successful on the field as we’ve been, but we’ve also made the world a little better.”